YSS-33806 Interdisciplinary Themes in Food and Sustainability


Studiepunten 6.00

Individual Paper1
Group work3
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. O Hospes
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. O Hospes
dr. TAP Metze-Burghouts
HL van Heijster
Examiner(s)dr. ir. O Hospes

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Bachelor Social Sciences


The course ‘Interdisciplinary themes in food and sustainability’ prepares students to work in an interdisciplinary environment. Students will learn to analytically and strategically understand and handle complex problems and evaluate innovative solutions for a circular economy - more specifically circular agriculture. Complex problems are unstructured problems in which both scientific and normative uncertainties exist, which require interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches for analysis and problem solving. 

In this course we focus on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC). Inspired by the new motto of WUR of “finding answers together”, the course combines different academic disciplines and insights from stakeholders to discuss the transition of business in the Wageningen domains towards RBC. RBC focuses on two aspects of the business-society relationship: 1) positive contribution businesses can make to sustainable development and inclusive growth, and 2) avoiding negative impacts and addressing them when they do occur. With the focus on RBC, the course also contributes to SDG 12 (Responsible Production and Consumption) and SDG 17 (Partnerships to achieve the goal).

The central questions of the course are:
1. What technical knowledge, standards and risk analysis are used and/or developed by transnational businesses in the domains of food and environment to ensure a positive contribution to sustainable development and inclusive growth, and to avoid negative impacts?
2. Why and in what different ways can public authorities govern RBC?
3. Why and how civil society organizations are (not, partly) engaged in the production of technical knowledge, standards and risks analysis by transnational business? What forms of collaborative informational governance can be designed?

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- describe the main principles of inter- and transdisciplinary research;
- differentiate the societal actors and academic disciplines involved in complex problems and solutions in transitions of business in the fields of food and environment towards Responsible Business Conduct (RBC);
- apply, and to appraise and critique an interdisciplinary evaluation tool by which one assesses transitions of business towards Responsible Business Conduct;
- use inter- and transdisciplinary insights to formulate improvements of risk analysis, standards and governance arrangements towards Responsible Business Conduct.


Students participate in lectures, guest lectures of business actors, and tutorials to discuss assignments. They also work in teams on an interdisciplinary analysis of a corporate business in one of the domains of WUR and its transition towards RBC.


Three small assignments (15%), a joint report and analysis of a corporate business (45%) and an open question exam on the literature (40%). All have to be passed with 5.5 or more.



Keuze voor: MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMScC: Spec. C - Economics and Governance2MO
MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMScA: Spec. A - Business Studies2MO
MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMScB: Spec. B - Consumer Studies2MO